Young earth, old universe

The Bible tells us that the earth was created only a few thousand years ago.  The creation took six days.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Genesis 1:3-5

Each day consisted of an evening and a morning and had a period of light and one of darkness.  Those who believe the earth is old correctly point out the the word “day” can mean a long period of time but the description of the creation days makes it clear they were literal days.

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Your bucket list

Some people make a bucket list, a list of things they want to do before they die.  The name comes from the expression “kick the bucket”, a slang expression for dying.

If you are a Christian you don’t need to make a bucket list.  God has already made one for you.

We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

The purpose of these works isn’t to achieve salvation.  Salvation is a gift that God gives us by his grace and we receive it by faith.

By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

We aren’t saved by our works but one of the reasons we are saved is to serve God by carrying out the work he has given us to do.

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It’s history, not science

If a physician examines someone whose age he doesn’t know he can make a good estimate of his age because he understands the aging process and know long it would take his patient to reach his current physical condition.  But what would happen if he traveled back in time and examined Adam a few days after his creation and tried to guess his age?  If he didn’t know Adam had been created directly by God he would assume he had been born as a baby and grown to adulthood.  His estimate of Adam’s age would be much too high.  His error wouldn’t be the result of any incompetence on his part but it would occur because of his lack of historical knowledge of Adam’s past.

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Rachel’s death

Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah.  In addition he had children by Bilhah and Zilpah, the servants of his wives.  All four of these women could be considered his wives.  The Bible records the death of only one  of these women, Rachel.

Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.”

And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day.
Genesis 35:16-20

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4004 BC?

In the 17th century Archbishop James Ussher studied the chronology of the Bible and came to the conclusion that the world was created in 4004 BC and for a long time this date was widely accepted.  The date was partly based on the genealogies in chapters 5 and 11 of Genesis.  He believed that these genealogies were complete and never skipped any generations.  A study of genealogies in other parts of the Bible shows that this might not be the case.

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Buy a sword but turn the other cheek

Jesus gave two commands that on the surface seem to contradict each other.

Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:39

But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.
Luke 22:36

What is the point of owning a sword if you are forbidden to defend yourself against an attacker?

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Your only son

God tested Abraham.

God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
Genesis 22:1-3

Abraham obeyed but God stopped him from carrying out the sacrifice.

Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
Genesis 22:10-13

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Rebellion in Hell

I found this on an atheist site.

We all know that fundamentalists use hell as an instrument of fear to keep people from leaving religion. This is my rebuttal, let’s assume they are correct and hell really exists. Even that will not work as punishment system, why? Because how may people will go there? Let’s say half of human population that is 3.5 billion people. Do you really think those 3.5 billion will just accept that and will not rebel against whoever manages hell? People are good in organizing ourselves against any common enemy – we all hate oppressive regime in the real world. Heck, 3.5 billion rebels in hell will topple whoever rules there.

The author has some misconceptions about what we believe but he brings up an interesting idea; is it possible that the residents of Hell will try to rebel?

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First or last?

Christians follow one of two philosophies in giving. Some take care of their own needs first and then give out of what is left; others give to God first and trust him to take care of their needs out of what is left.  Which one is right?

Honor the LORD with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Proverbs 3:9-10

This clearly says that we should give the first of all we have to God and he will bless us.

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Who really won?

The town council of Greece, New York, opens its meetings with prayer.  Recently two residents of the town filed a lawsuit to end this practice and the case eventually reached the Supreme Court.  Here is the Court’s decision as reported by Fox News.

The Supreme Court has upheld the right of local officials to open town council meetings with prayer, ruling that this does not violate the Constitution even if the prayers routinely stress Christianity.

The court said in a 5-4 decision Monday that the content of the prayers is not critical as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.

The ruling was a victory for the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester.

At first glance this seems to be the kind of ruling that Christians should welcome.  Before reaching this conclusion we should look at the reason the justices reached their decision.

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How to become a saint

Recently two former popes have been canonized as saints by the Catholic church.  According to the book Saints for Dummies these are the requirements a person must meet before before being considered a saint by the church.

To become canonized as a saint, a perfect track record isn’t required (or possible). Hence, being sinless isn’t on the list. So, what is required for sainthood?

Two verifiable postmortem miracles.

Evidence of having led an exemplary life of goodness and virtue worthy of imitation, having died a heroic death (martyrdom), or having undergone a major conversion of heart where a previous immoral life is abandoned and replaced by one of outstanding holiness.

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The guards

Peter and the other apostles were imprisoned by order of the high priest and were freed from prison by an angel.

But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Acts 5:17-21

Peter was imprisoned again when King Herod began persecuting the church.

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
Acts 12:1-3

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The sons of Abraham

Moses was a descendant of Abraham.  He gave the world the Torah, which he said was based on revelations given to him by God.  Judaism is based on the teachings contained in this book.

Muhammad was a descendant of Abraham.  He gave the world the Koran, which he said was based on revelations given to him by God.  Islam is based on the teachings contained in this book.

The similarities between these two aren’t just a coincidence.

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Reaping and sowing

Chapter four of John describes a meeting between Jesus and a Samaritan woman.

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
John 4:5-8

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The Euthyphro dilemma

Plato wrote of a conversation between Socrates and a man named Euthyphro in which this question was raised: Does God command us to do things because they are good or are they good because God commands them?   Many people feel that either answer creates a problem.  If God commands us to do things because they are good that implies that there is a standard of goodness independent of God to which he must conform.  If the things God commands are good because he commands them then good and evil exist only because of God’s arbitrary decision to call certain thing good and others evil.  This problem is known as the Euthyphro dilemma.

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The shroud of Turin

Here is what Wikipedia says about the shroud of Turin.

The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion.  There is no consensus yet on exactly how the image was created, and it is believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth.

Scientists have studied the shroud and haven’t been able to determine whether or not the image is that of Jesus but there is another way to answer the question.  That is to study what the Bible says about what Jesus was buried in and see if it matches the description of the shroud.  John’s gospel give us the information we need.

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Know who your enemy is

There is a war going on between God and Satan.  When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a soldier in God’s army and a participant in that war.  In order to wage war effectively we must know who our enemy is.

When we look at what is going on in the world we see many who are doing and advocating things that violate God’s commands.  Some believe that women should have the absolute right to kill their unborn children.  Others believe there is nothing wrong with homosexual activity and that the government should allow marriages between two people of the same sex.  Militant Muslims use force to impose their beliefs on others.

These people are not the ones we are fighting.

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Brainwashing

God commands parents to teach their children the Bible.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

There are people who don’t believe the Bible and don’t think it should be taught to children.  Some claim that parents who teach their children the Bible are brainwashing them.  Those who make this claim are right; children who are taught the Bible are being brainwashed.

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Intolerant love

Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus gave this command to his disciples.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
John 13:34

In order to carry out this command we must take a look at how Jesus loves us.  There are two places where he describes his love.

The first one is well known.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

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Moving out of Ephesus

My new year’s resolution for 2014 is to move out of Ephesus.

I mean this in a spiritual rather than a geographic sense.  The second chapter of Revelation begins with Jesus telling John to write a letter to the church in Ephesus.

He commended them for the good they were doing.

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
Revelation 2:2-3

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